Elevated choices for city property renters and buyers
Finding the right apartment has become easier thanks to a collaboration between a foreign couple and their local partners, who take into account every customer’s needs
Launched on June 2, Elevated Realty Co aims to bring a one-stop, all-services approach to the local property market, combining a mix of foreign and local expertise.
“What we’re bringing to the table is something completely new,” says Elevated Realty operations manager Chris Desaulniers. “We’re paying attention to details in a way that hasn’t been done before in Phnom Penh. Do you want a washing machine? Do you want it inside or outside? Do you want your kitchen separated from the dining area? Do you want a city view or a river view?”
The venture began with a romance between Canadian-born Desaulniers, 31, and American-born creative director Leah Valencia, 28, which blossomed in Kampot in 2011 when the couple’s paths crossed while travelling through Southeast Asia.
Desaulniers returned to Canada and Valencia returned to the US, but the romance continued long-distance – until the two decided to make a new life in the country where they first met. They returned to Cambodia in December last year.
“And that’s actually how Elevated came about,” says Valencia.
She adds: “It all happened very organically. We were looking for a two-bedroom apartment. We spent a couple of days walking around the city. We went to multiple agencies. We tried the tuk-tuk thing. We checked the forums. We did it all.”
Valencia describes the process as “exasperating”.
Their luck changed randomly, says Valencia, when one day they spied a “for rent” sign from a tuk-tuk and had the driver stop to check the place out.
“We didn’t like it, but the owner said, talk to my husband, he’s an agent,” says Valencia.
Despite their reluctance, the agent, Khannarong Un – otherwise know as Ron – found the couple just the place they had been looking for in four hours.
“He’s now our partner,” says Valencia.
Ron, 34, had been in the property business for 10 years, working independently when the American-Canadian couple met him. He’d trained in Bangkok. Meanwhile his wife, Tunkhyna Rov, or Khyna, was working for an NGO as an accountant.
“We ended up becoming friends with Ron and Khyna, and having some candid conversations about business,” says Desaulniers, adding that Ron “ended up approaching us about doing business together in February this year”.
Khyna joined the team as Elevated’s accountant.
“You need to have local partners to do this,” says Desaulniers. “Ron came to us with market insights, with connections, and we were coming to him with international standards and processes.”
The result of the foreign-Cambodian collaboration is a website that allows prospective Phnom Penh renters and buyers to tick the area they want to live in, along with a host of other categories, narrowing the parameters of the search for a home to just a few optimised options.
“In the past, you went to an apartment and you asked how much is it?
“And the guy talks to the landlord and says, for example, $500, and then you ask does it have internet? They chat again and say, no, and then you ask how much would it cost to install internet, and they chat again, and they say we’ll have to get back to you on that,” says Valencia.
“What we’re doing is cutting all that out,” she says. “We’re taking away the stress from the process of finding your perfect apartment – that’s the service we provide.